At least nine Lebanese opposition supporters were shot dead in Beirut on Sunday in some of the worst street violence since Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, raising tensions in a country gripped by political conflict.
A senior opposition source said all the dead were members of Hezbollah or Amal — Muslim groups that have been locked in a power struggle with the anti-Damascus governing coalition for more than a year. At least 29 more people were wounded.
The violence spiralled after an Amal activist was shot dead when the army moved to break up a protest over power cuts.
Security sources said the army, seen as neutral in the political crisis, fired in the air to disperse the protest and that other gunmen in civilian clothes were nearby.
Most of the eight dead activists, all men, were killed in the same area, but it was not clear who was responsible. The army said it was investigating who was behind the shooting.
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora urged calm and declared Monday a day of mourning. Schools and universities were to be closed.
"In these moments, our country is passing through its most difficult and dangerous times," he said in a statement. "What we have built during the past years is in danger of crumbling."
Gunfire was heard into the night in Beirut, and the streets were deserted. Gunmen were seen in areas near the scene of the shooting in Mar Makhaeil.
In nearby Ain Roummaneh, the site of a massacre that had triggered Lebanon’s civil war, a hand grenade wounded seven people, security sources said. Cars there were set ablaze.
The governing coalition and its Syrian-backed opponents have sought to contain violence since clashes a year ago between their supporters. But tensions are still high between Sunni Muslim followers of governing coalition leader Saad al-Hariri and people loyal to the opposition.